Singapore Is Asia’s Most Competitive City, Economist Says

Singapore Is Asia’s Most Competitive City
Visitors look at the central business district skyline from the SkyPark atop Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. Photographer: Sam Kang Li/Bloomberg

Singapore is Asia’s most competitive city in attracting businesses, efficiency and promoting a clean environment, according to an Economist Intelligence Unit report commissioned by Citigroup Inc.

The island, ranked by the World Bank as the easiest place to do business, was the world’s third-most competitive city after New York and London among 120, according to the report. Singapore ranked the highest in financial maturity and physical capital, beating Hong Kong, which was ranked fourth overall, the report showed.

“Our strong attributes of trust, knowledge, connectivity and livability have underpinned our ability to attract investments, business, talent and ideas,” Leo Yip, chairman of Singapore Economic Development Board, said today in a statement. “It is also becoming a strategic location for Asian enterprises to build capability to grow international markets.”

Singapore has cut taxes in recent years to spur investment, prompting companies to hire hundreds of thousands of people from overseas. Foreigners and permanent residents make up more than a third of the nation’s 5.2 million population. The city has brought in about 1 million people since the beginning of 2005 as the government allowed more immigration to make up for a declining birth rate.

The city state forecasts its economy will expand 1 percent to 3 percent this year after growing 4.9 percent in 2011. The current gross domestic product forecast for Singapore in 2012 doesn’t factor in “downside risks emanating from abroad,” the trade ministry said on Feb. 16.

‘Neck to Neck’

While Singapore and Hong Kong were “neck to neck” in most of the categories, Singapore outperformed in environmental governance and global appeal, said Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh, senior editor at Economist Intelligence Unit.

Asia ranked the highest in terms of economic strength, the most weighted category in the ranking, making up 15 cities in the top 20, the report said. Of these, 12 cities are in China, the report showed.

“Asia’s economic rise is clearly reflected in the economic strength of its cities,” Stephen Bird, chief executive officer of Citigroup’s Asia-Pacific region. “Cities are engines of global growth that are transforming the landscape of investment, talent and business.”

The 120 cities account for about 29 percent of the global economy with a combined GDP of $20.2 trillion. The report looked at such categories as economic growth, social aspects, infrastructure and talent to identify areas of opportunities, Michael Zink, head of Citigroup for the Southeast Asian region, said today in Singapore.

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